March 2019 Newsletter

I always find March to be a good time of year to reflect, as it offers the perfect opportunity to take stock of what is working, against the things that require some additional fine tuning. March is after all, the start of Spring and a time to ship out the old and welcome in the new.

I use Spring as a benchmark to see what New Year’s Resolutions I have actually stuck with (chocolate biscuits are still banned from the office) and which I have let slip (New Year’s Eve was so long ago, and I really did intend to join that gym and walk to more meetings rather than drive). I always use the day after pancake day (it’s always just sugar and a squeeze of lemon for me!) to start with new resolutions again. So, on Ash Wednesday I gave up a few things for Lent. After all, 40 days without chocolate will all seem worthwhile when I crack open that extra-large chocolate egg come Easter weekend.

Spring is a time for growth and transformation. It is so nice to see the change in weather and a pop of colour from daffodils and tulips lining the roadside and fields and spring forward this weekend to lighter evenings and longer and hopefully warmer days ahead.

A fresh start and a new approach to do things better shouldn’t just focus on personal goals, it should also be a part of any business journey. It is not just our mind, body and soul that we should put under surveillance and nourish with care and attention, but also our business environment too. A forward thinking, competitive and energised business should constantly be looking at fresh approaches to products, services, policies and procedures and customers.

Embrace and adapt to some well required change and take this time as an opportunity to spring clean your business. Not sure where to begin? The PFA team will do all the hard work for you. One of our expert consultants will carry out a Procurement Health Check, consisting of a deep clean on your procurement business policies and procedures to assess its effectiveness (now and in the future) as well as checking procurement strategies, and all compliance aspects. The importance of a business health check is paramount. Just think, we do an MOT on our health and wellbeing and we should be doing it for our businesses. Several our members have produced tangible results from carrying out this activity which you can hear more about later in the newsletter.

We are also pleased to welcome on board a variety of new members and are excited to update you on our increased product portfolio as we launch new Dynamic Purchasing Systems. You can find out more about this, and what the PFA team have been up too recently, including what book is by our bedside and what our pie filling says about us, later in the newsletter.

And dare I mentioned the word…..Brexit. We are all sick of hearing and talking about it, so I have kept my thoughts on the implications for procurement brief.

Use this spring as a chance to tend simultaneously to your home, personal and business environment and start right now by taking 5 minutes out of your busy schedule to grab a drink and reconnect with all things procurement and PFA by reading through the newsletter which is crammed full of updates, useful links and important dates for your diary.

Until next time,

Spring Clean your business with our Procurement Health Check:

Spring is in the air and this new season provides us with an opportunity to start afresh, spruce things up and declutter and there has never been a better time to take this approach to look at your current business procedures. Are things flowing like they should? Are your policies up to date? Does everyone know what they are doing? Most importantly, are you compliant and as effective and efficient as you can be? A Procurement Health Check will answer all the above and more and is an important process for a business to undertake. It provides you the perfect opportunity to stop, take a breath and assess independently with a fresh pair of eyes how your business is operating. In today’s economic landscape PFA strongly recommend a procurement health check so you are free going forward to open up areas for opportunities and improvement.

Did you know?

  • Contracts over the value of £25,000 are recommended to be published through the Government’s Contract Finder website.
  • Works, services and supplies contracts with a total value over set thresholds require tendering via the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). Want to know the thresholds, contact a member of the team today.
  • An Executive team will put a spotlight on conflicts of interest and make it harder to exclude previous, poor preforming contractors from the bidding process.
  • It is more important than ever to be compliant with hefty fines being imposed on businesses if loop holes are found.

PFA offer a procurement health check to all members, and indeed the wider public sector, which includes an independent, organisational wide check of procurement strategies, policies, procedures and compliance. PFA’s health checks provide a comprehensive bench marking exercise to assess where an organisation currently is against industry standards, compliance, corporate objectives and business plan. It enables us to identify opportunities for improvement and provide a clear and effective action plan that achieves Value for Money ‐ tangible results.

The team carried out a Procurement Health Check at Equity Housing towards the end of last year and found the PFA teams’ findings to be invaluable to the operational affairs of the business and the recommendations put forward had a positive impact with a proper and clear procurement strategy being developed. Click here to read the Equity Case Study.

PFA are pleased to report that we have just been commissioned to carry out a Procurement Health Check for Johnny Johnson Housing Trust and we are confident that we will find a number of sound, effective and positive outcomes for the team to work on going forward.

Now is the perfect opportunity to radically analyse and assess your organisations direction and procurement offer. Our health checks are reliable, effective, and provide results. To book yours contact a member of the PFA team by clicking  here or calling 0300 555 03 04.

PFA Procurement Health Check Cycle

All it takes to be compliant, efficient, provide value for money and allow for tangible and effective results is 6 easy steps which is carried out on your business by a qualified PFA team member.

  1. Plan: we get to understand your business. What is your organisational standing. We delve to understand you leadership, reporting lines, bench marking opportunities, alignment to corporate and team goals and objectives. What is your strategic sourcing with roles, processes, policies and competence.
  2. Engage & Consult:We want to understand your stakeholder engagement.How integrated is the procurement function in key business units. Are all the right people aware of the process. Are policies up to date.
  3. Benchmark:We carry out a full comparison with your peers
  4. Summary and Recommendations: a full recommendation report will be reported to the Exec Team for implantation and action
  5. Continuous Improvement: How to deliver ongoing success
  6. Data Check:Full integration into the strategic planning and budgeting process.

Member Update:

We have had a flurry of member activity since the end of last year and we are pleased to announce we have welcomed on board the following new members:

  • Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), based in Kent have joined us and are interested in our Business Solutions Framework. MCA work together with their partners and stakeholders to prevent the loss of life at sea and on the coast in the UK and they produce legislation on maritime matters and guidance to help follow the rules.
  • Tower Hamlets Homes, based in London are currently interested in using our Water Hygiene Framework. Tower Hamlets Homes is an award winning ALMO (Arm's Length Management Organisation) and is a not-for-profit company set up in 2008 to deliver high quality housing services for residents living in 21,000 homes in East London.
  • Clarion Housing Group, based in London are currently looking at using our Water Hygiene Framework. Clarion Housing Group includes the country’s largest housing association, Clarion Housing with 125,000 properties nationwide. Over 360,000 people call a Clarion Housing home their home.
  • Wellingborough Homes, based in Wellingborough, initially joined us for Gas Servicing and are now also wanting to use us for our new All Under One Roof DPS, Category 12 Kitchens, Bedrooms and Bathrooms. Wellingborough Homes are a locally based Housing Association in and around Northamptonshire and commit to developing a diverse range of new homes to meet local needs, work with customers to provide great homes and value for money services and invest in its communities.
  • NHS Property Services, based in London. NHS Property Services is a property owner and manager, adviser and service provider, helping to shape NHS estate for the future, with one goal to ensure the NHS makes the right property choices to enable excellent customer care.

The PFA team are excited to be working with such diverse members and are looking ahead to strengthen relationships with the key stakeholders. We always welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively to assist members to achieve better efficiencies and better economies of scale. If you have any member queries, or want to become a PFA member, please contact the team.

Launch of new DPS

The team are pleased to announce the introduction of our new Dynamic Purchasing System, Total Facilities Management (FM).

Why Facilities Management?

We developed the DPS to provide members the opportunity to purchase their Facility Management requirements compliantly and at the best cost possible.The DPS is like no other product on the market, as we give members the chance to “pick and mix” the subcategories required by one single contract (drawdown) with multiple services under one contract which has the added benefit of huge resource savings with time and cost.

Facilities Management is all about looking after your buildings and your people. There are many disciplines and services that fall under the umbrella of FM, but what they all have in common is that they are essential to ensure the smooth and efficient running of your business.

To ensure PFA covered all areas we split the DPS into 3 categories to give our members maximum flexibility:

  1. Hard Facilities Management
  2. Soft Facilities Management
  3. Total Facilities Management.

Within each category lies various subcategories - click here to find out more.

Please note: if you are supplier or know of any suppliers that would want to be a part of this new and innovative DPS, please contact Rio Bridge asap.

Don’t forget!

PFA have a suite of Dynamic Purchasing Systems and Frameworks that offer a quick and effective route to market with significant cost savings to be made.

If you are unsure of the difference between a Framework and a DPS or want to understand the benefits of both, here is a reminder:

PFA Framework:

When our members opt for a PFA framework, they feel confident knowing this will be OJEU compliant, cost effective and efficient. With a team of professionals at hand, our members can rely on expert advice, knowledge and accessibility from a dedicated Account Manager, as well as a supply chain that is rigorously assessed and monitored.

To access our current Framework product list click here


As a procurement tool a DPS has many positive aspects similar to a framework agreement, yet new suppliers can join at any time throughout its life cycle offering more flexibility and the process is purely electronic, making it faster and more efficient.

The PFA team are offering more DPS categories across a variety of services and the team can manage the full draw down process for members as part the core service we provide.

To access current Dynamic Purchasing System product list, click here

If you wish for PFA to procure a category for your organisation that is not currently listed in our product portfolio, please get in touch as we consider all suggestions that are put forward and will always work with you to find the solution that will best enable your organisation to make cost savings.

Procurement Post Brexit

As we edge ever nearer to the new Brexit deadline, one of the key parts of the discussions is how will public sector procurement look post Brexit?

The simple answer to this, and indeed anything Brexit, is there is no definitive answer!  What we do know is that the House of Commons Briefing paper on the effect on public procurement post Brexit is clear: existing UK regulations on procurement in the UK which utilise EU Directives, will continue to apply.

After this time, there will be more freedom for the UK to change the rules, should there be a desire.  However, freedom to change the rules will be restricted as the UK continues with its international trade agreements with other EU countries.  It is expected that the EU Procurement Directive will form UK law over a 12-18 month period.  During this transition there is no expectation that any of the current legislation will change.

The UK's trading relationship with the EU is not yet clear after Brexit.  It is likely to be much of the same: public sector procurement is one of the largest purchasers into the EU, with NHS supply chains spanning all parts of the EU.  With this in mind, there is likely to be a significant consultation with the NHS on any potential changes, and given the fact that the NHS is the biggest public sector buyer in the EU, why try and fix something that isn’t broken?

So what does this mean for us?  Well its business as usual: OJEU will still apply, albeit advertising for goods, works or services above threshold will still be advertised but via a UK based portal (which links into TED).  There will be no restriction on only tendering to British businesses – the EU will still engage with any UK tenders, and vice versa, the UK markets will still engage with the EU supply chain.  International agreements will support this, and indeed, for public sector buyers maintaining a more open market could help support value for money.

Longer term, given that the UK had the biggest input on the public consultation when PCR 2015 was introduced, any future changes in UK public procurement is likely to be minimal. 


Alas, this is not Keith’s Bank Account details. This is of course the well known calculation for Piπ (we all knew that didn’t we!). For those not in the know, Thursday 14th March was National Pi Day. Pi Day is celebrated around the world and it falls on 3/14 since three, one and four are the first three digits of Pi. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.Day. Pi was first calculated by Archimedes of Syracuse (287–212 BC), one of the greatest mathematicians of the ancient world.

National Pi Day has become a day to celebrate numbers and math and If you let the day come and go without even attempting a mathematical equation (shame on you) don’t worry, as thankfully, most celebrate the numerical occasion accompanied by delicious food like a pizza pie, fruit pie, and pie pies! So channel your inner math geek and calculate, eat, and celebrate the famous never-ending number today and everyday.

Now when I mentioned it was Pi day in the office, of course, everyone immediately thought of food. Someone instantly suggested we went for a team pie lunch at the pub to celebrate this wonderful occasion. All the talk of Pi in the office immediately turned to favourite pie filling, so not wanting to dilute the importance of the iconic and intelligent Pi calculation, below is a snapshot of what favourite pie the PFA Team like, because let’s be honest, this is what we were thinking about on PI Day;

Cass Hasford, Member Manager, commented, "you can’t beat a good old steak and ale pie, smothered in gravy, accompanied by mash of course. Although I do make a mean cheese and onion pie. Its all about the amount of cheese you put in”.

Our very own MD Keith Armstrong opted for a chicken and leek pie, with fat cut chips. And he insisted it had to have large chunks of chicken in the pie with thick, creamy sauce.

Rio Bridge, our Procurement Manager became very passionate when she informed us that she was keeping in traditional with her favourite pie being good old meat and potato and Martin Ellicott, Head of Procurement and Contracts piped in that he controversially always went for venison pie.

Don’t wait for March 2020 before you enjoy your next pie or appreciate the importance of Pi and mathematical equations.

Did You Know……..

Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern

Working Group Meeting

Save The Date! The next PFA Working Group will take place on Wednesday 15th May at Muir Head Office, based in Chester.

Why should I attend?

The aim of the group is to provide a networking platform for all members to discuss procurement hot topics and to share best practice. The session in May will focus on Fire Safety and the challenges faced with delivering effective procurement, along with a guest speaker and Q&A session.

We strongly advise all of our members to send a representative to participate in the day, which exemplifies collaborative working at its best. The session in May will feature the standard agenda items as well as focusing on Fire Safety. With the Government, local authorities and business in all sectors shining a light on this issue, staff members from across all areas of your business will benefit from joining in on this session. The Group will run from 10am – 12.30 finishing with a buffet lunch. If you would like to attend, please contact Cass Hasford

What does your book say about you?

On 7th March the nation stopped for World Book Day. For any parents out there, we felt your pain for having to creatively design your child’s favourite book character from an empty toilet roll tube and a bed sheet. I think we all have to appreciate the importance of World Book Day as it teaches children from all walks of life, from an early age,how reading can be so much fun and important and offers a great form of escapism and adventure.

World Book Day got me thinking about how well I know my work mates, because when it comes to reading preferences, we are open books. Did you know your story choice tells a story about you? As one of our key stakeholders, we want you to feel confident and comfortable when liaising with any member of the PFA team, so we have let you into our literary minds so you can assess us a bit better. Below, the team talk about what they are currently reading and their all-time favourite book, which will hopefully give you a snap shot into their very own character:

Keith Armstrong, MD:

My current book is Harper Lees To Kill A Mockingbird. Why? Well I studied it at A Level and the 1960s film of the book was on TV recently, so I watched it and it brought back fond memories of my younger years. It inspired me to buy the book which I have nearly finished reading.

I do generally read a lot of books and like factual books especially on modern history. 

Rio Bridge, Procurement Manager:

My favourite book is Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone (after Fifty Shades of Grey – am I allowed to say that!)

When I first read Harry Potter at Primary School it made my imagination run wild and for a while, I thought I actually have magical powers. Even now on every birthday I think, this could be the year that I get my letter from Hogwarts.

The book I have recently purchased but not started it yet, is the Tattooist of Auschwitz. After recently visiting Auschwitz I was intrigued to know more about the place, which prompted my purpose.

Cass Hasford, Member Manager:

I have just finished reading Peppa Pig Mummy and Me, Peppa Pig Treasure Hunt, Peppa Goes Swimming and Peppa Gets Spots (and believe me, this is not the full Peppa Pig repertoire!) Just to clarify, this is because my little girl, who is 2, has Chicken Pox and to take her mind off the pain and the urge to itch, we divulged ourselves into the world of a Peppa Pig. Peppa Gets Spots was my lifesaver book, as my little girl felt reassured that even Peppa gets the dreaded Pox lurgy too.

Aside from Peppa, I do like to delve into The Secret and The Magic when I feel the needto (currently quite frequently, to get me through the sleepless nights of Chicken Pox!)

Martin Ellicott, Head of Procurement and Contracts:

My favourite books (plural as can’t choose between) are JRR Tolkien books The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

I am currently swapping between reading Bruce Springsteen autobiography, Born to Run and David Walliams The Ice Monster and I read snippets of both to my son at bedtime.

Oscar Wilde drew a connection between character and book choices when he said: "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines who you will be when you can't help it". Delving in the minds and personal life of my colleagues didn’t necessarily assist me in understanding their inner selves any better, but it did give me an opportunity to get to know them outside of the professional realms (and feed my curiosity, because I'm nosey!)

World Book Day got the PFA Team thinking long term about how they could assist more people, especially children, to spend their time reading and whether they have access to books, so we have recently started to donate our old books to local sheltered schemes, libraries and children’s nurseries and Primary Schools. If you have spare book knocking around the office or the home, could your business look at donating locally? Work as a team, (here at PFA HQ we always advocate the importance of collaborative working) and get in touch with a local school or public body near you pass on your used books.

It’s good to talk!

The PFA team are always on hand for a chat, catch-up, to advise and support. Engage with us, in any way that works best for you.

Pop into the office: We are based in Altrincham, so if you are ever passing the office, feel free to pop in. No invite required and the kettle is constantly on.

Call or email: 0300 555 0304 /

Interact with us on Twitter – we tweet daily and provide useful links to our latest product offerings, and engage in hot topics. If you aren’t following us already, start today: @procurement4all

Procurement Clinic: We are always happy to hold a Procurement Clinic at your office, which will offer your staff, from any business area, the opportunity to pop in for an informal chat to get advice on any procurement issue with all members of the PFA team.

We recently held a Procurement Clinic at Muir HQ which resulted in some great collaborative working and it was nice to meet some new faces who came to meet the team and wanted advice on current supplier contract queries alongside a variety of other procurement issues. Its always good to talk and share best practice and the Procurement Clinic allows the flexibility and opportunity to do just that in your work place, so you don’t need to worry about staff resource time. We are happy to assist with any query and between the team we have a wealth of experience. All you need to do is provide a room/space/desk at your head office and we do all the rest – we even bring pastries and nibbles.

If you would like the PFA team to hold a Procurement Clinic at your office, just get in touch so we can get a date in the diary. The clinics are free of charge and are a great opportunity to pool ideas and for us to understand how we can best support you.

Newsletter: We are always on the lookout for informative and engaging content for our newsletter, which goes out to key and influential stakeholders across the procurement sector. If you have something you want to say, advice to offer or information to share about your business or the procurement industry, please contact us.

Don’t Forget!

There is so much think about to in Spring; new beginnings, lighter and longer days, the emergence of leaves and flowers everywhere you look… is clear to see why so many of us look forward to the season after a long, dark and hard Winter. March and April bring lots of exciting occasions to share with family and friends so the last thing you want to do is to forget about the important dates!

Easter Weekend – the 4 day break is looming!

It defies me to stay this, but I actually think the first chocolate egg advert was shown on TV on New Year’s Day and hot cross buns and all things bunnies have been in the shops for months. It feels like we have been talking about Easter for a very long time, but when does Easter weekend actually fall this year?

Easter weekend is late this year, with Good Friday landing on 19th April, Easter Saturday on 20th, Easter Sunday on 21st April and Bank Holiday Monday on 22nd April.

While many festivals are on fixed days, Easter is a movable feast and marks the end of the 40 days of Lent. It is usually celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon on or after 21st March because it is based on the lunar calendar. The date is decided by a complex set of calculations based on observations of the moon.Easter Day is the first Sunday after the paschal full moon, so if the full moon is on a Sunday, Easter will be a week later.

Easter must fall on a Sunday as it was the day of Christ’s Resurrection. The paschal full moon was chosen because the date of Passover in the Jewish calendar, and the Last Supper (Holy Thursday) occurred on the Passover. Therefore, Easter is the Sunday after Passover. Easter can fall anytime between 22nd March and 25th April. It will not fall in March again until 2024 when it is on March 31. Easter hasn’t fallen this late in the year since 2011, when it fell on 24th April.

Many mark the occasion of Easter by exchanging chocolate eggs, which are traditionally symbolic of rebirth and new life. If you have given something up for Lent, due to religious reasoning or not, then you deserve to crack open that chocolate egg and relax over a lovely 4 day break weekend.

The PFA team wish you a very happy, healthy and Egg-cellent Easter (sorry! It had to be done) and we do hope you spend quality time with family and friends and manage to put the phone and laptop down and get outside to enjoy the Spring air and lighter and warmer days.